DES MOINES, Iowa & NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) announced today that nine additional communities have been named as Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa. These communities are the first with populations of less than 10,000 citizens to be named and include:
These communities join Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo, which were named in May as the first Blue Zones Project™ demonstration site communities in Iowa with populations greater than 10,000 citizens.
In addition to the small communities that will officially begin their journey toward improved well-being, 12 Iowa communities with populations of more than 10,000 citizens are moving forward in the selection process to become Blue Zones Project demonstration sites. These communities submitted applications in August in the second and final selection round for communities of this size, and all have been deemed qualified to progress as finalists. The finalists include:
“When we first announced that Wellmark would bring the Blue Zones Project to Iowa, we were overwhelmed by the interest from across the state and delighted to be able to capture that enthusiasm by adding a focused strategy for smaller communities,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. “By combining the large community approach with a pathway tailored specifically to meet the needs of smaller communities, we are confident we will see sustainable improvement in the well-being of all Iowans.”
The selected communities will receive assistance from experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.
“Since submitting our application earlier this year, we’ve been waiting for the call that we would be one of the first small communities to participate in the Blue Zones Project in Iowa,” said Norm Johnson, CEO of the YMCA of the Okobojis and a lead project advocate for Spirit Lake. “We know it’s going to be a lot of work, but we are excited about this journey and eager to share our learnings with other communities that will follow.”
Six of the larger finalist communities did not receive site visits during round one of the large community selection process, which took place earlier this year (Altoona, Burlington, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marion, and Oskaloosa). Those communities will receive site visits this fall. The final six Iowa communities with populations above 10,000 named Blue Zones Project demonstration sites will be selected in January 2013, for a total of 10 demonstration sites in communities of this size.
The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Dan Buettner and is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. The Blue Zones Project employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives by taking a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, social networks, and the built environments where people spend their time.
The progress of the demonstration site communities will also be measured using the Well-Being Index.
For more information on the Blue Zones Project, visit www.bluezonesproject.com. Click on these links for videos:
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 40 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.
About Blue Zones®
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.